Cinderella by Joburg Ballet Tammy Ballantyne
09/17/2013 16:19:51

Tammy Ballantyne : The newly-renamed Joburg Ballet company pulls out the stops in a confectionary delight of a ballet.

Celebrating a much-needed and much-appreciated R8 million grant from the City of Joburg, Joburg Ballet’s (JB) new production of Cinderella is about new beginnings. The company has had several reincarnations over the years but this one feels the most optimistic.

Dirk Badenhorst, CEO of JB, with artistic director, Iain Macdonald, took to the stage to give thanks to the numerous individuals and organisations that have assisted them and gave an emotional Annzie Hancock, who has worked tirelessly for over 12 years to keep bringing in monetary support, the honour of being an Honorary Life Member.

Macdonald’s new choreography to the marvellous music of Strauss takes the audience into a wonderland of enchantment filled with colour and movement. With Andrew Botha’s sets and 3D visuals, it is a cupcake-and-candy experience, truly escapist and thoroughly uplifting.

The moving animation by Malcolm Finlay does away with the clumsiness of traditional sets and gives a fresh feel to the production. Brilliantly cast on opening night, Luis de Castro and Carlos Santos as the Ugly Stepsisters, flounce, pout and completely upstage everyone with fabulous wigs, great character acting and a fair bit of stage business (it’s difficult to watch what’s happening downstage when the pair is undressing upstage, revealing lacy corsets and flimsy gowns!).

Kitty Phetla’s refined Stepmother is elegant, imperious and downright nasty. The trio of dames take the term haughty to a new level and Burnise Silvius’s meek and hen-pecked Cinderella creates a wonderful contrast.

Silvius combines a radiant technique with magical footwork. The scenes with her and the Disney-like female mice are sweet and nimble and Claudia Monja’s imperial Fairy Godmother leads us into the ballroom scene with Cinderella clad in a blue and silver sparkly gown.

Javier Monier’s cheeky Jester sets the tone for the scenes in the palace while an agile Jonathan Rodrigues as the Prince cuts a dashing figure in gold and white. Despite a bit of a fluffed entrance, he more than made up for it in the pas de deux with Silvius. He is a gentle but sure partner and Silvius soars effortlessly through the air in difficult and precise sequences.

Macdonald’s choreography for the corps is strong and challenging; the music is demanding and fast, requiring quick footwork and speedy recovery from balances and pirouettes. The company is looking good.

The comic business in the slipper-fitting scene is a little over-long; some editing would be useful. The wedding scene is grand and royal with the ballet concluding with a long, technically demanding pas de deux which Silvius and Rodrigues pull off with aplomb. They are supple, nimble and completely in control.

The ballet is enhanced by grand costumes and Simon King’s atmospheric lighting. It’s a chocolate-box treat of a ballet; dip in and savour the magic.

Cinderella runs until September 29 at the Joburg Theatre with various castings. Silvius, Shannon Glover, Lindé Wessels and guest artist, South Korean gold medallist, Jin Ho Won, alternate in the role of Cinderella.

Tammy Ballantyne
Freelance journalist

Related Venue:
Joburg Theatre Complex , Loveday Street Braamfontein Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa